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Three New Anglican Movements Challenge Church of England's Hegemony

Three New Anglican Movements Challenge Church of England's Hegemony

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
February 25, 2021

In recent weeks, three new bodies have emerged within the Anglican Communion. Two of the movements are orthodox, one is progressive and, taken together, they could undermine the Church of England's hegemony, even as demographics, declining church attendance and COVID tear the Mother Church apart.

ANGLICAN CONVOCATION IN EUROPE

Recently, a new Anglican convocation in Europe was commissioned under GAFCON Bishop Andy Lines. It is called the Anglican Convocation in Europe (ACE), which is authorized, authenticated and under the authority of GAFCON as part of the Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE).

The Anglican Convocation in Europe (ACE) exists to provide a home for historic, orthodox, biblical, confessional Anglicans in Europe - regardless of churchmanship - expressing gospel generosity within the bounds of the Jerusalem Declaration.

The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), a fellow member convocation of ANiE, will partner with this new convocation. "The AMiE is delighted to be one of the Founding Convocations of the Anglican Network in Europe," a note at their website said. AMiE was initially recognized by GAFCON in its communique after the Nairobi conference in 2013 and affirmed in the Letter to the Churches that emerged from its 2018 conference in Jerusalem. The goal is to see the existence of 25 AMiE churches by 2025, and 250 by 2050.

With this move the wagons are beginning to circle the Church of England. The first step was taken by GAFCON when Bishop Lines was consecrated as a missionary bishop to the UK and Europe by the GAFCON Primates in June of 2017. Bishop Lines later ordained nine men to serve the AMIE in England.

It's a wake-up call for Anglicans, David Baker, a commentator, wrote at that time. "Nine new church ministers is scarcely comparable with the thousands of already-ordained Church of England ministers in the established church. Nonetheless, it is a sad indictment of mainstream Anglicanism that these men either wouldn't -- or couldn't -- be ordained in the CofE. They are undoubtedly conservative on the issues of women's ministry and sexual morality -- but no more so than many Anglicans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians of course. Their views are well within the mainstream."

ANGLICAN FUTURES

More recently, a new group of Anglican evangelicals calling themselves Anglican Futures says it seeks to chart possible ways forward for faithful Anglicans in the UK. The new organization will be headed up by Susie Leafe.

Here is what Anglican Futures says about itself; "Its aim is to provide day-to-day practical and pastoral support for all those who would identify themselves as faithful Anglicans in the UK. Committed to the GAFCON 2008 Jerusalem Declaration, it is helping individuals, groups and churches to think through issues in a Biblically- principled way to ensure the promotion of authentically Anglican orthodox beliefs and practices, and effective gospel engagement. The organization offers informed critical analysis of what is happening on matters which affect Anglican affairs, locally and globally, as well as the provision of online events creating the opportunity to work through some of the best ways forward to promote a spiritually robust Anglicanism in the UK. Trustees include Dan Leafe, Melvin Tinker, Matthew Mason, Phil Ashey (US) and Susanna Sanlon. Some of them tell us more:

"In some ways we have had to start from scratch -- bringing together a group of trustees, registering with the Charity Commission, setting up a new website, a new office, bank account and all the administration of a new entity. But at the same time, we wanted to keep the momentum of the Ideas-Exchanges that I had begun when working for GAFCON," admits Susie Leafe, the charity's new director.

"There is something so valuable about bringing together 15-30 church leaders from different places, giving them some stimulus to get them thinking and then to sit back and hear them respond -- sharing their experience and testing new ideas and thoughts, in what I hope is a safe environment. So, we've engaged with over 100 people, with two topics, each run three times. The first explored the Church of England's Living in Love and Faith resource and the context in which it has been published. The second began a conversation about the abuse of power in church settings and how we might create more loving local churches."

Leafe said: "Anglican Futures is not only an Ideas-Exchange. It is an initiative born from many years working to reform and renew the Anglican Communion, and if there is one thing that we have learned, it is that individuals and churches need practical and pastoral assistance as they make proactive and principled decisions that best serve the gospel in their particular context. Anglican Futures wants to help in whatever way we can. For example, we are supporting two clergy who are being disciplined by their bishops at the moment, and helping two churches, one in the CofE and one outside, set up new charitable structures."

Melvin Tinker, the Chair of Trustees, said: "Christians are those who look back with gratitude, upward in expectation, and forward in hope. It is great to be part of something which embraces all of those features with regards to the Anglican expression of the faith. Cherishing the best in the Anglican tradition and living in a fast-changing culture, it is exciting to seek to shape the future under God with the gospel.

"In the end, we are convinced that the greatest challenge for our generation is not 'How do we respond to heterodox church leaders?', but the holiness with which we treat our brothers and sisters whose conscience leads them to take a different path."

Susanna Sanlon, one of the founding trustees, summed it up saying; "Anglicans are exploring how to be faithful to Jesus and how they should carry out the Great Commission in the places to which they have been called. I am excited about helping colleagues both within and outside of the CofE, CinW and SEC to do this, so that we can all confidently face future challenges as faithful Anglicans."

MOSAIC

A third movement launched this week pushes the ecclesiastical Anglican ship in exactly the opposite direction. A new coalition, named MOSAIC, an acronym for Movement of Supporting Anglicans for An Inclusive Church. Its ring leader is one Simon Sarmiento, the founder of Thinking Anglicans, a progressive Anglican blog bent on pushing pansexuality in the Church of England

A headline screamed; SENIOR CHURCH OF ENGLAND LEADERS UNITE TO CAMPAIGN FOR "A CHURCH FOR ALL ENGLAND".

Leaders from across the full breadth of inclusive networks have united to create a "Movement of Supporting Anglicans for an Inclusive Church" that will campaign together for a more inclusive church.

The movement aims to have a presence in each diocese of the Church of England, where it will work with local clergy and laity on projects that promote inclusion for all those who are currently marginalized by the Church of England -- whether that be due to race, ability, sexuality, gender or gender identity.

Launching just ahead of the February Synod, the co-chair of the initiative, Rev. Canon Tim Goode, a newly elected clergy member of the Archbishops' Council said:

"I am delighted that we have been able to bring together such a broad coalition of leaders who represent the full range of marginalized groups within the Church of England. We stand far stronger together -- for you cannot be a little bit inclusive!"

The coalition draws together leaders from the Campaign for Equal Marriage, Disability and Jesus, Inclusive Church, Modern Church, One Body One Faith, and the Ozanne Foundation. It hopes to grow to include other organizations.

Each of these bodies will continue to function independently, but the coalition is an attempt to co-ordinate their efforts to eradicate discrimination from church statements, policies, appointments, and actions.

So, the question is this: who will win the ecclesiastical and moral culture war raging within the Church of England?

The Living in Love and Faith will surely define the moral future and means test that the Church of England will adopt with the blessing of Justin Welby the Archbishop of Canterbury, ably abetted by the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell.

By any standard of reckoning, the Church of England is heading down the same road as The Episcopal Church and it will meet the same end. There will be dying dioceses and aging congregations, with no new bodies to fill empty pews in dying parishes. In the end, sin never wins. Never. God's Word can never be broken, or reconciled with unscriptural, sexual behaviors brokered in, in the name of a false compassion.

END

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